2016: It’s About Time
In 2016, members, speakers, and partners from all over the globe, regardless of gender, came together to serve, engage, and empower underserved communities and to create a space where those with voices more muted than our own could be heard.
Muslim. Feminist. Writer.
Eve Ahmad is a rising freshman at the University of California-Irvine. She is currently majoring in Cognitive Sciences and hopes to conduct research on neurological disorders in the near future. Aside from her love of science, Eve enjoys writing and had been the Editor-in-Chief of her high school newspaper for two years. Her main area of expertise is poetry and, thanks to the support of WriteGirl, she has been published in three anthologies as well as a finalist at the Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate competition.
Eve is a Muslim and a Feminist and attended a Catholic High School where she gave presentations on Islam. She is an expert Henna artist and loves the intricacies and culture behind Indian and Arabian henna. At only five feet tall, this tiny but mighty young woman was selected as part of this year’s scholarship process to speak at TEDxPasadenaWomen.
Patricia Lebre Alireza
Experimental Physicist. Aspiring Yogi. Mom.
Patricia is an experimental physicist working on Quantum Matter. She holds a B.A. from Occidental College in Los Angeles, M.S. in Physics from UCLA and Ph.D in Physics from University of Cambridge. In 2010, Patricia received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Occidental College.
She is currently working as a research scientist in the Quantum Matter group at University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratories. Her research interests are investigating the electronic and magnetic properties of materials under extreme conditions of high pressures, low temperatures and high magnetic fields, focusing on superconductivity, as well as developing new techniques for high pressure research.
Patricia divides her time between Cambridge, her family home in London, and Pasadena, where she has a lab and small company that manufactures and distributes devices she has developed for Quantum Matter research. She also works with several physics labs worldwide, including in Holland, Hong Kong, UK, Canada and France.
Writer. Seeker. Storyteller.
Jenna Arak is a soulful storyteller who loves personal and professional tales with heart and truth. Her mission is to encourage women to follow their dreams, build upon their strengths, encourage deeper connections and bring new, interesting, and innovative ideas into the world through storytelling.
She shows women how to use the written word to share their story: to teach, connect and have an impact on the people who need to read about who they are, what they’ve done and what they do. Because, as she says: “through reading one another’s stories, all of our lives will be changed for the better”.
Jenna is also a storytelling teacher, proud mentor with WriteGirl and a denizen of any bookstore’s self-help section. Her writing has been featured in Salon, Thought Catalog, The Everygirl, The Muse, Darling Magazine, The Girl Who Knows, Career Contessa and more. She lives and writes in Pasadena.
Teacher. Mother. Life-long learner.
Elizabeth is a dedicated elementary school teacher entering her 11th year in the classroom. She teaches social justice and acceptance of others and strives to teach students to think critically and be solution-oriented. She works to create a safe and open environment in her classroom.
Over the last few years, Elizabeth’s journey as a mother of a transgender child opened her eyes and heart to what acceptance really means, and how adults not only need to teach children to accept others, but accept themselves. Her experiences have fostered her passion to ensure civil rights for all people. Elizabeth believes that by accepting and sharing our true selves with each other, we can create a diverse and loving community.
Elizabeth studied Psychology and is married with two children.
Diversity Advocate. Writer. Beyoncé Obsessive.
Brittany’s body of work addresses the ways in which race, gender, and sexuality interact with our everyday lives. Brittany has a vast amount of experience creating and facilitating interactive workshops and training, and writing on these topics through her work in higher education, non-profit organizations and currently as a Freelance Diversity Consultant.
While serving as a pastor at Fellowship Monrovia, Brittany had the privilege of writing a curriculum designed to help participants unpack and understand racism. In addition, she developed a Center for Racial Reconciliation with Fellowship Monrovia. Brittany also offers hands-on experiential learning through her Civil Rights Tours, for which she takes participants through the South to immerse them in the world of the freedom riders, advocates and everyday people. The intent is to create a deeper and more personal understanding of the history of race in America.
Brittany received a B.A. in Psychology and M.S. in Counseling and Student Development from Azusa Pacific University. Brittany is deeply committed to the work of social justice, but also to be the best daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, dog owner and Beyoncé fan that she can.
Advocate. Raconteur. Educator.
Sue is a lifelong educator, championing the transformational power of education.
Sue’s career has been driven by a dedication to student success that was inspired by her own ability to see what a difference higher education can make, should make, and does make in students’ lives. After serving in senior administrative and teaching positions in southern California, she was appointed Chancellor of the University of Michigan-Flint. She describes her position as a mix of university leadership, urban development and small town mayor.
As a result of her life experience, which included being an emancipated minor, Sue committed herself to doing everything she can to ensure others have the opportunity to receive a successful education.
Her team at UM-Flint collaborate with community partners to find common goals and common ground to address the challenges that the community faces. She says: “Flint and the surrounding area are proof of what is possible when people join forces to create a bright future for all, and UM-Flint is proud to be part of that ongoing effort.”
She and her partner have two children and five grandchildren. Sue is most happy at the beach.
Funny Mom. Writer. Performer.
Megan Dolan is a proud founding member of the acclaimed Elephant Theatre. Her solo show, titled “Snack”, premiered at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival to sold out houses and won an Encore! Producer’s Award. “Snack” was also featured in the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival at the Electric Lodge in Venice.
Megan has written and performed pieces in Expressing Motherhood, Two Truths and a Lie, Laugh Riot Grrrrl, High Brows Comedy Fundraiser, The Scripted Comedy Festival, Cake Batter’s Funny Women Festival and The Trunk Show. In addition, she has been a special guest performer at Long Beach City College and the Southern California Doula Association, and opened for the comedy folk duo “Mommy Tonk”. Her previous solo show, “Blind Fish”, played to sold out houses and was selected as a finalist in the Fifteen Minutes of Femme competition.
For the past 17 years, Megan has worked with Playfair, the most popular campus attraction for new student orientation programs, visiting colleges around the country to facilitate community building and diversity training. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, son and daughter.
Kids’ Champion. Healthcare Visionary. Data Geek.
Mary has been at the helm of healthcare non-profit Young & Healthy for more than 25 years. Their mission is to provide access to high quality healthcare for uninsured and underserved children and families.
Mary received her B.A. and M.A. in Child Development from California State University, Los Angeles, and has worked in the child development arena for over 30 years. Prior to joining Young & Healthy, she served as a Child Life Specialist at Huntington Memorial Hospital, where her role was to help children and their families cope with sometimes catastrophic disease or injury via innovative play therapies. She has also served on Cal State LA’s adjunct faculty as a lecturer on the effects that hospitalization can have on developing children.
For her work at Young & Healthy, Mary has been awarded Cal State’s Distinguished Alumni Award, Directors of Volunteers Distinguished Service Award and the YWCA Women of Excellence Community Service Award.
Author. Scientist. HIV Researcher.
Nathalia Holt Ph.D. is a science writer and bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us from Missiles to the Moon to Mars, in which she chronicles an elite group of women’s’ contributions to rocket design, space exploration, and the first American satellite.
Her second book: Cured: The People who Defeated HIV, recounts the story of two patients, each known in medical history as the Berlin Patient, who were cured of the HIV virus. One review states: “Nathalia Holt presents a thorough account of the research that provides scientists with hope that a cure will one day be achievable… and her empathy shines through in her prose. This is as important a social history as it is a medical document.”
Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, Slate, Popular Science and Time.
Nathalia trained at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, Harvard University, University of Southern California and Tulane University. She lives with her husband and their two daughters in Boston, MA.
Sharoni Denise Little
Educator. Organizational Strategist. Proud Mom.
Dr. Little Ph.D., Ed.D, serves as Associate Professor of Clinical Management Communication in the Marshall School of Business at USC, and is CEO of The Strategist Company. She is an expert in organizational leadership, global communication and inclusion, and social justice and equity.
While earning her Ph.D. from Indiana University in Rhetoric and Cultural Studies, Sharoni’s dissertation examined how the “black male as rapist” myth was used in Congressional discourse to hinder federal anti-lynching legislation and promote a paternalistic rhetoric of control. Today, her research centers on educational and organizational leadership, social justice, equity and power, global communication, learning outcomes and academic success. She is also working on her forthcoming book Perpetual Surveillance: The Intense Scrutiny of Black Men.
In her civic career, Sharoni serves as a Senior Adviser for the City of Compton, the “My Brother’s Keeper” Community Challenge in partnership with the White House National Initiative for boys and men of color, and is Coordinator of the Empowerment Congress, a LA-based civic engagement non-profit. She is also Chair of LA County’s Policy Roundtable for Childcare and Development Commission, partners with the Children’s Defense Fund, and sits on several boards of trustees. Sharoni regularly presents to executives, educators and organizations worldwide, and has been featured on NBC News, PBS and iHeart Radio.
Well-being Teacher. Mindfulness Coach. Facilitator.
Dave helps people live and work more consciously so they can experience the well-being, growth and connection they seek. He partners with individuals, couples, teams and organizations to focus attention and energy where it will make the greatest positive difference.
Dave received his B.A. from Williams College, Masters in Humanistic Education from SUNY New Paltz, and completed a clinical internship in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. After 25 years as a teacher of neuroscience, physics, human development and leadership in independent schools, Dave now works all over the world with executives, athletes, parents, teachers and teens. He offers individual coaching, presentations, in-services, retreats, seminars and ongoing consultation. Working with teams and organizations, Dave facilitates the creation and maintenance of powerfully healthy and positive cultures.
Executive Coach. Innovator. Non-Profit Founder
Bonnie Paul, Ph.D., has invested over 25 years of her career seeking ways to support her clients in leading fulfilling, mission-centered lives. She works as an executive coach and experiential psychology educator, coaching and teaching individuals and teams of all backgrounds and ages. Bonnie is an innovator in curriculum design, authoring and facilitating leading-edge programs in transformational leadership and emotional intelligence.
Along the way, she accidentally discovered a love of volunteering in prisons. She is a co-founder of award-winning non-profit The Freedom to Choose Project. For the past 12 years, she has also co-developed and co-led large workshops, teaching over 3,000 male and female prisoners the skills to succeed when they are released, including how to choose responsibility, handle anger constructively, and find forgiveness and inner freedom.
Bonnie works with her husband, David Paul M.D., Ph.D, and together they coach and teach workshops on topics such as transformational leadership, emotional intelligence, healing professional burnout and compassion fatigue, and conscious relationship. In parallel, Bonnie works with women to help them resolve body image and self-expression issues using dance as a modality. On her way to becoming a workshop leader and speaker, Bonnie overcame a severe fear of public speaking, and was featured in Arianna Huffington’s book On Becoming Fearless.
Athlete. Paralympian. Globetrotter.
As a child, Nicole was ambitious, energetic and outgoing. She spent much of her childhood kicking soccer balls and exploring the outdoors with her two older brothers. Then, at 8 years old, she was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Later that year, she lost her right leg above the knee, and underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatment.
Inspired by the 2002 Winter Olympics, Nicole stepped onto a ski slope for the first time. The beauty, adrenaline and excitement of three-track skiing captivated her, but something was missing. With progress in that sport deemed “impossible” due to a lack of prosthetic knee technology, she began to develop a passion for snowboarding instead.
In 2006, Nicole became the first above-knee amputee to compete in adaptive snowboarding. Her accomplishments led to global demand for prosthetic knee technology and played a fundamental role in the introduction of snowboarding to the Paralympic roster. Nicole represented the United States in the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games and is an 17x World Cup Medalist. She is consistently ranked as one of the best adaptive snowboarders in the world, and also devotes her time to working as an advocate for The Challenged Athletes Foundation and childhood cancer research.
In addition to being an amazing athlete, Nicole is an accomplished motivational speaker and holds a degree in Business Management. Nicole is an advocate for The Challenged Athletes Foundation and childhood cancer research.
Exhorter. Screenwriter. Freshly Minted American.
Clare will be the Emcee for our event.
She is a founding member (1991) of the SAK Theatre Comedy Lab in Orlando, where she directed the improv shows, ran comedy workshops and wrote factually questionable plays and sketches. SAK continues to this day to provide sold out comedy shows in the heart of Orlando, Florida.
After moving to Los Angeles Clare turned to screenplays (and liquor). Her first screenwriting gig was for Universal, writing about a curious little monkey called George. Since then she has written features for Disney, Sony, Walden, Paramount and Warner Brothers, including BLENDED, the script she co-wrote with Ivan Menchell that starred Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. She’s currently writing a feature for Dreamworks Pictures.
Continuing her passion of founding things, Clare is a founding member/volunteer of WRITEGIRL, a writing mentorship program for teen girls in the heart of Los Angeles. She also serves on the faculty of Act One; Writing For Hollywood, a faith based writing program, with whom she has been involved since day one, 1999.
She lives in Pasadena with her slightly weird husband and their super weird dog.
High School Student. Accidental Entrepreneur. Humanist.
When the Nepal earthquake struck in April 2015, the destruction was so absolute that it was impossible for Shantanu to remain a passive witness. With the support of family and a knack for marketing, he began a social media campaign to request help. His team raised 16,000,000 Indian Rupees (approx. $25,000) plus material donations, and he personally visited the worst affected areas to hand over the proceeds. His essay on the experience was published in national newspaper The Indian Express.
After reading about rising farmer suicides in India due to drought, Shantanu created UNNAT, a hydroponics project and experiment in soilless agriculture. One key outcome was the development of a simple kit which can be used to grow several essential crops such as fenugreek, cabbage and spinach. The state government of Uttar Pradesh noticed the potential of UNNAT, and selected the organization for a pilot study that began in August 2016.
Shantanu also organizes school leadership events and talks, serves as a player and manager of his school’s football team, and works for his school’s Green Brigade Club, Interact Club and Business and Leadership Clubs. He has also worked with Ms. Chavvi Rajawat, first female Sarpanch (or Head of Village) in the state of Rajasthan, who helped him learn about the challenges facing female leaders and decision makers in India.
Sandra Tsing Loh
Comedian. Menopausal Mad Woman. Professor.
Named by Variety as one of America’s 50 most influential comedians, Sandra’s work ranges from off-Broadway solo shows to radio commentaries on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and Ira Glass’ “This American Life.” Her weekly “Loh Life” and syndicated “Loh Down on Science” are broadcast on KPCC. Also a contributing editor for The Atlantic, Sandra’s new book The Madwoman In The Volvo: My Year Of Raging Hormones, based on her Best American Essay 2012 on menopause, was one of The New York Times’ 100 Most Notable Books of 2014. Sandra’s five previous books include The New York Times Notable book Mother On Fire.
Her solo comedy piece “The Bitch Is Back” premiered at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage in July 2015. The stage adaptation of The Madwoman In The Volvo received its premiere production at Costa Mesa’s South Coast Repertory Theatre in January 2016, and was staged at Pasadena Playhouse last June. The show will hold its next production at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in December.
Sandra is an adjunct professor at UC Irvine’s School of the Arts and School of Physical Sciences, where she teaches solo performance and science communication.